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On getting up this morning I wandered down to the kitchen to make myself a hot drink in the hope that this would wake me up properly. Peering into the cupboard I saw the usual array of coffees, teas and flavoured hot chocolate, then spied a brown jar nestling towards the back of the cupboard - Green & Black's Organic Hot Chocolate. I think this has been sitting in the cupboard for a while - I don't remember it being there, but I'll give it a go anyway.
As the label says, this product is organic. Organic here means that every ingredient is organic, not just the major constituents, as can happen with a number of supposedly "organic" products. So on drinking this product you can be safe in the knowledge that you are not imbibing vast quantities of pesticides and herbicides, just 100% natural ingredients.
The product, you'll be pleased to know, is also fair trade. For those of you who do not know what fair trade means, a quick explanation: In chocolate-growing countries the growers are often not paid a fair prices by the big companies, meaning that they struggle to live on what they have, just so that they can provide us with cheap chocolate. Green and Black do not accept this and buy their ingredients through the fair trade scheme, meaning that they are helping the farmers to get a fair price for their produce.
Enough of the background, onto the product itself. The packaging is very inconspicuous, which is probably why I left this in the cupboard for so long without touching it! The 300g jar is of brown glass, with the lid and label both being of a different shade of brown. The front of the label features the brand name in big gold letters, and advertises the fact that the product is to a certain organic standard. On the back are the ingredients in several different languages, serving suggestion and a bit about the product. According to the blurb on the side, chocolate with 60% cocoa solids is used, to ensure a rich, chocolatey flavour. We'll see about that later....
As far as ingredients are concerned, let me just say that there may be traces of nuts in the product, but it contains no genetically engineered products and is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.
Now to prepare! It is suggested that you put three to four teaspoons of the product into a mug, add hot milk, and stir, so this is what I will do...
On opening the jar, the incredibly authentic chocolatey smell hits me. With some hot chocolate you can detect a syntheticity about the product, but not with Green and Black's. I am also surprised at the consistency of the chocolate powder - it appears to be tiny flakes of grated chocolate - this may just be my early-morning eyesight, but it looks and feels different from other hot chocolate powders.
I take a mug and a teaspoon and spoon my hot chocolate in, whilst heating up some milk on the hob. I know, I know, a lot of hot chocolates now only require you to add water, which may be quicker, but with milk you get a more full-bodied and more pleasant flavour.
Milk is hot: now to add it to the cup. I'm expecting to have to stir for ages to get rid of all the little bits of chocolate floating on the surface, but no need. It all dissolves near enough instantly, giving a smooth hot chocolate drink which foams gently at the surface.
The smell of chocolate is rapidly invading my nostrils and telling my to drink, so I do. It's true - the milk does indeed make the chocolate taste richer and creamier, which I greatly appreciate! The chocolate flavour is also of high quality - the product contains dark chocolate, but in adding the milk it changes the flavour to somewhere in between dark and milk chocolate - delicious!
The cup also contains hardly any dregs of chocolate when I finish the drink, which also shows its quality.
For a hot chocolate drink of this quality you'll need to be prepared to pay more than normal - roughly between £3 and £4 for a 300g jar. Some supermarkets occasionally stock the product, look in the "organic" aisle (obviously!)
A great drink, authentic tasting and organic - and if £3-£4 is the price I have to pay for quality...then so be it.